With the availability of sexed semen, genomically proven cows and bulls, and the increased value of beef animals, producers have more choices to make in managing dairy genetics than ever before. Improving herd genetics used to be a simple process; select the bulls with the best genetics, based on your overall needs, and breed your cows to those bulls. Today, producers can select the top cows in the herd and use sexed semen while using regular semen on the average genetic merit cows in the herd. In some cases, the lowest genetic merit animals are mated to beef breeds. Knowing the genetic merit of animals in the herd will help you select service sires and manage inbreeding in your herd. You can also make informed decisions regarding culling. It all starts with good DHI record keeping.
AgSource's groundbreaking Genetic Selection Guide (GSG) provides producers with the power to maximize herd genetics while enhancing the herd of the future. The report ranks animals in the herd based on Net Merit Dollars (NM$) and records both genotypic and phenotypic information.
AgSource member, Keith York, uses the Genetic Selection Guide to determine matings. He states, "We're constantly striving to increase the genetic value of our herd. The GSG is one of the tools we use to decide which animals we want to breed and which we don't. We share it with our AI technician. Lower end heifers are bred to beef bulls, while sexed semen is used on our high-end heifers. It's expensive to raise replacements. This report helps us be more selective and is helping us trim costs."
New Progeny Report Introduced
Information about cows is separated from heifer information, resulting in two separate, ranked reports. In addition, a third report for progeny (expected offspring from cows bred and confirmed pregnant) is now available to review calves that are due to be born in the upcoming nine months. Producers choosing any of these three reports have the choice of receiving them as paper reports or accessing the information via the website. The Genetic Selection Guides for Cows and Heifers are updated three times a year after each USDA sire proof run. Producers can choose to receive information on cows, heifers or both, based on information needs. The Genetic Selection Guide for Progeny is updated more frequently as part of the regular test day reports because it is based on breeding records and pregnancy confirmations reported on each test day.
For more information, talk with your local DHI field technician, contact AgSource at 608-845-1900 or visit www.agsource.com/GeneticSelectionGuide.
The AgSource Genetic Selection Guide is a great tool to rank your herd from the highest genetic merit to the lowest. Following are some simple steps to maximize the value of this report and your genetics program:
1) When breeding your cows and heifers, make sure you enter the correct service sire by entering the full sire NAAB code or registration number. Entering a sire's name or a partial NAAB code will result in not having a sire listed on the offspring.
2) If you breed some of your cows with AI semen from beef breeds (for example, Angus) make sure to enter the NAAB code for these bulls as well.
3) Make certain each cow and heifer you breed has official identification (ID) listed on her record. If an animal does not have official ID entered, the resulting calf will have no dam listed.
4) As each calf is born, apply an official ID tag and record the number in the calf's record and match it with the dam's ID. This is particularly important with ET calves.
AgSource Cooperative Services provides agricultural and environmental laboratory analysis and management information services to clients located throughout the United States and across the globe. The largest full-service DHI provider in the country, AgSource is a member-owned cooperative and a subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International. Find out more at www.AgSource.com.